Three years ago, after seeing the thought-provoking film Relentless– a documentary about the history and fallacies of the Oslo peace accords – Rabbi Yakov Couzens and his friend, Michael Wachs, dreamed of having the Philadelphia Jewish community view the movie as well. So they picked a day, booked Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz – who had just written a new book called The Case for Israel – to speak after the screening, and wound up with a highly successful event on their hands. So was born the first Israel Awareness Event in 2004, which has followed with similar success each year.
For this year's reprise – sponsored by Aish of Philadelphia, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Akiba Hebrew Academy, Hillel of Greater Philadelphia and the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Philadelphia – Couzens and Wachs have chosen another documentary, Obsession, which explores the hatred taught as part of radical Islam and the threat that poses to the Western world.
The film will be followed by a lecture by author and radio talk-show host Dennis Prager.
"The movie is a rude awakening to the realities of what the world is facing with regard to worldwide terrorism and Islam – how global, deep, fierce and intense it is," said Couzens, executive director of Aish Philadelphia, "and that we need to be aware and awakened in order to defend ourselves and stop it."
The March 26 event will start at 7 p.m., and be held at the Harrison Auditorium of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Couzens said that he wasn't exactly sure what Prager, who has written a book about anti-Semitism and produced a documentary about how average Israelis deal with terror, would be speaking about, but he had full confidence that the man would lead a provocative discussion.
Last year's guest speaker, Jordanian-born Walid Shoebat, attracted 700 people to the event.
"There is a need for this in the community," he said. "I'm already thinking about what I'm going to do next year."